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Arkansas' Smith faces creditors in bankruptcy case

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - An attorney for Arkansas coach John L. Smith said Friday that a computer error in his bankruptcy case is behind what appeared to be a huge jump in his debt.

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Smith's initial Chapter 7 filing in September listed $25.7 million in debt. He later amended that to $40.7 million, blaming land deals gone bad in Kentucky. Attorney Jill Jacoway, speaking during a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said the computer error resulted in her assistant listing $25.7 million in debt. She said the error resulted in a rough draft being filed rather than a completed one.

``We cussed out our computer provider,'' Jacoway said. ``We cussed out our computer guys.''

Smith was accompanied by wife Diana and Jacoway during the hearing at which he was asked by trustee John Lee about any possible assets he might have, including any possible inheritance from his parents and brother Bart, who passed away Sept. 17.

Smith, who said a counter-suit was still possible against one of his creditors, was also asked by attorneys for his creditors about the listed value of several of the land-development companies in which he was a partner.

``I've been out of the loop with my partners for over three years, so I don't know any of the account details of any of the LLCs and what has taken place,'' Smith said. ``I have not been in the loop.''

The former Michigan State and Louisville coach is trying to wipe away his debt and hang onto $1.2 million in retirement accounts and some personal property, all while coaching Arkansas in the wake of the Bobby Petrino scandal. Petrino was fired in April following revelations he had hired his mistress to a position in the athletic department, and Smith was hired to replace him two weeks later.

Smith, who declined to comment after Friday's meeting, told The Associated Press about his pending bankruptcy in July and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said he was aware of Smith's financial problems when he hired him.

The Razorbacks (2-4, 1-2 Southeastern Conference), who host Kentucky (1-5, 0-3) on Saturday, have struggled this season. They have gone from a preseason top 10 team to one just hoping to earn a bowl berth.

Terry scheduled another meeting Friday for next month between Smith and his creditors, but Jacoway said any disputes could be worked out between the lawyers and Terry before then.

``It's possible that John L. Smith will never see a judge,'' Jacoway said. ``It is very possible that everything is worked out, that everything is A-OK.''

Jacoway said the coach's bankruptcy case could last as little as 90 days or up to two years.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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